Thursday, August 29, 2013

summer camp life for the hosts . . .

What with the incredibly mild (albeit rainy) summer we've had, working outside has not been uncomfortable in the least! Which is really good -- especially for Todd, who's been working very diligently on a prototype project since he retired. We have one trail in particular, that we'd really like to turn into an educational trail -- one that can be used not just for scout troops, but also for school field trips.  
A trail with tree markers and bird houses and that sort of thing . . . as well as a turtle sanctuary up at the pavilion.  We'd seen a small one at the local Botanical Gardens -- in the Butterfly House -- and thought it would be such fun to have one here . . .  
But before he did that, he wanted to try a smaller scale sanctuary area to see how it would best work, to get an idea of materials and expenses, and to give *us* a little bit of the fun in our caretaker's corner of the camp.
Isn't it gorgeous?  I love watching it and could sit and listen and watch for hours!  Todd's done an amazing job with it!  It's really quite beautiful, but looks very natural as well.
I love the sound of running water, so this sweet pond is just music to my ears!
Todd built a stacked slate and rock waterfall at one end, which flows into the shallowest part of the pond. Then at the deeper end . . .
There's a resin turtle with a heavier duty pump to keep water (and oxygen) moving.  Todd watched last week as the first turtle walked down and climbed into the pond.  I think he walked down there because he thought the resin turtle was real and was so embarrassed when he realized it was fake ... that he jumped into the water as if to say, "That's *really* why I came down here -- not to check out a fake turtle."  I imagine, anyway.  ;)
It's filled with fish and crawdads -- all indigenous to the nearby water sources (creeks and ponds) and is about fifteen feet long and maybe about eight feet at it's widest.  And probably about eighteen inches at its deepest.  With very few exceptions, Todd's done a great job of using plants and bits and pieces--like slate from the creek and ground cover (with the exception of a dozen plants we purchased from the local nursery) that he's replanted from other areas in the camp--to really make this mini-ecosystem very 'camp' natural.
Of course, we did purchase the waterlily to go in the pond.  It's so fun to see it in there!!  It took about two days for the first pad to pop up to the surface -- and about two weeks or so for the remainder of the pads to catch up.  I can't wait until it blooms, though -- it's got beautiful pink blooms!  I'm thinking we may need one more to give symmetry and balance.  ;) 
Here's the view from the back end, near the waterfall. There are some other 'fun' things in the mix, too. Like a lit aerator in the pond, which keeps bubbles floating and also a floating solar light that changes colors. Both are especially fun when we're watching the pond at night. I'm standing under the outdoor camera that's mounted so we can even enjoy the pond at night from inside (you can see it on the corner of the shed, two pics up). It's also connected to the 'net, so we can watch from afar, too. The idea is to have one connected to the Camp's website, when it's the real deal. A nature ... or "turtle" cam, if you will!

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, turtles aren't the only thing in residence. We've put several toads in the area, but aren't sure in they're able to get out or not (as in climb over the fence) -- we haven't seen any. Todd put in a baby horned toad this evening! And of course there are frogs and tadpoles (which means eventually more frogs) and even more frogs!
This fine fellow stayed put my entire time in the sanctuary.  He wasn't worried about me a single bit!  He was pretty stout, too.  I love frog serenades on summer evenings!

The 18" fence goes around three sides and at the back, it connects to the regular split-rail fence that already existed (and is hidden in the huge holly trees).  It's covered with hardware cloth wire that also folds at ground level and continues for an additional 15"-18" under the ground cover.  And at that back end, Todd built the 'living quarters' for our turtle guests . . . 
It's constructed of concrete blocks and logs and other stuff and topped with pine straw.  And if you look real closely at the center of the photo, you can just make out one of the turtles (we have two, as of right now), stepping out for a bit of fresh air.

I think this is the second one we (aka, Todd) found, which means it's Sam. (The first one was Mr. Frodo and third and fourth turtles we add will be Pippin and Merry, respectively.) I offered Sam a carrot but he snubbed it. He also stayed very still when I climbed in the pen and chatted with him, but I think the more you do that, the more used to folks they are and likely to be....ummm....sociable. Whatever that is for turtles.
We also got two hydrangea bushes and planted them.  Lowe's had them on sale for $5 a plant.  I love them and they do tolerable in shady areas, which is what we've got.  The patches of sunlight you see in the pictures are mostly early morning.  By afternoon the area is largely shaded.  
In the front, alongside the driveway, Todd added an extra board so that we can set some potted plant along the top rail.  Mums are just making their way into the stores here and they are my favorite fall flower -- it should be gorgeous when they burst forth into glorious color!  This is essentially the view from the RV. Pretty sweet, huh?!

* * * * * * *
As an aside, evidently our 'turtle' sanctuary is also a POSSUM sanctuary.  Todd was sitting there watching the area and watched a possum crawl out of the *turtle's* living quarters to the *turtle's* food pan and then crawled back into the *turtle's* living quarters.  Some animals just ain't got no respect!!  LOL!

Man's best laid plans and all that . . . !!

:)

17 left a comment . . .:

Jeanie said...

What a lovely, peaceful spot! It will be enjoyed by all!

Missy Shay said...

What a beautiful spot, that possum ain't dumb, he knows how to have the easy life!

Momof3girls said...

Absolutely beautiful and peaceful! I love it!

Kathy ... aka Nana said...

So beautiful ... and so peaceful.

Jean(ie) said...

I bet that is a hugely peaceful spot!!!! Very pretty. I can tell that lots of hard work went into it.

Jean(ie) said...

I bet the kids love the turtles.

Melissa Bishop said...

It is a thing of beauty. Todd did a great job!

Janet O. said...

Oh, how I would love to join you and sit in the sanctuary listening to the water, enjoying the natural surroundings, and glaring at the possum!
Todd has done an amazing job, for sure!!

Lee said...

What a place of beauty! And very relaxing, even vicariously through looking at the photos. :)

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What a lovely area that Todd (and you) created.

Barbara F. said...

Denise, this sanctuary is beautiful. What a terrific job Todd did. Those darn possums, though, they are ALL over the place! Freeloaders!! lol xo

Vroomans' Quilts said...

What a fantastic job! I really think this is so pretty and how the area wildlife is going to enjoy right along with you.

Gmama Jane said...

i'M IN LOVE WITH THE TURTLE HABITAT!! Todd did an exceptional job...I'm quite impressed. It will be such an addition to the camp. You guys really have made Camp Macoba a wonderful place..Madison County's best kept secret!!
Love
Jane
P.S Missing you at Sassy Sewers!! We meet again Sept. 5th

mothers shadow said...

I would LOVE to sit there all day, and night, and day...it's so beautiful. Thank you for linking to Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. Carrie, www.amothersshadow.com

StitchinByTheLake said...

So beautiful - a tremendous amount of work I'm sure, but so worth it! blessings, marlene

Sarah said...

It looks great! So, what did you name the possum?

Katherines Corner said...

a lovely place to sit and watch the hours pass. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite things hop xo